Friday, March 30, 2012

Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny

Yeah. The world is awakening and in bloom. Since my new lightweight cannon digital camera arrived I have been out practicing quick draws. Its harder for my fat arthritic thumbs to maneuver but the ease of shooting and carrying is addictive. This week I had coffee in a place next to a nursery and, though windy, grabbed the flowering blossoms above. Because I live on top of a hill, things often bloom later here. But I was delighted yesterday on a tour of my garden to see the persimmon tree showing green leaves and some of the newly divided iris taking root.
Catherine, who just returned from DC where among other things she picketed in front of the Supreme Court, informs me that Easter is all about women's power and fertility and that it was evolved from pagan symbols. Ostara, for whom Easter was named, was a goddess of fertility. The female word estrogen is derived from her name.
When I was a little kid we really celebrated Easter, but not in the religious sense. Why? My glamorous Mother's nickname was "Bunny" and that was the name we and everyone else always called her. It was her day and in a way we regarded her as a goddess. I still have some of her ceramic bunny collection, and they will decorate my Easter table.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sacramento Adventure

Crazy weather. I hear it is 82 in Portland ME where my great niece Darcie is studying to be an RN, and snowing in Portland, Ore, where I know no one any more. In our bay area rain is predicted for the next five days after a particularly dry winter.
We need it, but not in one big splash. My tulips bloomed a month early and I think my iris will be a month late. The daffs got schitzy; half bloomed in early February and the other half are opening this week. We underestimated the deluge accompanying us on our trip to Sacramento last weekend. My friend Beth negotiated the puddles in her snazzy blue Toyota to get us safely to Morella's tranquil stucco and tile home in Folsom where we were spoiled for two days while taking Sandy's watercolor class on Aquaboard. Even Morella got lost in the storm. Folsom has certainly grown up in the last two years since I have been there, as has Morella's garden. The shopping centers are incredible. as well.
Such continuous sheets of rain remind me of the northwest or summer storm in Montana, though I am reading a book about trekking Siberia (The Long Walk) and I am led to believe Northern California is not unique in freakish storms.
Aquaboard will never be my medium of choice but it was fun to learn, and the class was delightful. On Aquaboard, versus paper, the painter can make mistakes and then just wash them off. That is a plus. The negative is that the magic is not there; paint does not blend nor easily granulate. The colors are opaque like oil. I miss the transparency. When a painting is complete it must be spray varnished three times which gives it a glossy finish. Great for tropical flowers. I chose to do a sunflower grouping on one, which is pretty ugly, and rendering of my friend Little Stacey's boots on the other. The boots have sentimental meaning; Stace was a fire captain and these are her professional boots. Both boots and girl are retired now, but both are overflowing with memories. The painting is almost finished but not varnished as yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strategic Patience, Hmphhh

“Strategic patience” according to Robert Genn, an artist who writes a popular newsletter I read, is in vogue these days. Strategic patience is the process of believing, given sufficient time, that most things will take care of themselves. I plead guilty to that one big time. It is synonymous with my old friend sloth.

For several months various workers of the male persuasion have been in and out of my kitchen. A refinishing job that was supposed to take two weeks has dragged on over four months. Thoughtfully when nature called the workers have availed themselves of the half bath in the laundry room, rather than either of the two main ones adjoining my bedrooms.

It never occurs to me to even enter that tiny room unless I am out of toilet paper, which I keep on the rack above the w.c. So occasionally when I detour there to restock my supplies I have noticed the toilet running. If the door is closed, as it always is, I don’t hear the gurgling. When water flow is discovered I frown and jiggle the handle, and it stops. No big deal. This may have happened four or five times in the last three months. Surely no woman would walk off and leave a toilet running, would she?

I shrugged it off as inadequate male toilet training. The thought did occur to me that the next time I had to hire a plumber for a REAL problem I would have the plumber check the toilet. Here’s where strategic patience comes in.

One day last week I found a notice from the water company taped conspicuously to my mail-box. It was ominous and jarring to my psyche.

“Occupant: Your water meter was read today and registered in excess of your average usage. It is suggested you check…..etc. etc.”

As luck would have it my niece and her hubby were visiting from Washington. At my request they scoured the outside property looking for leaks, and found none.

So, I put off calling the water company until I had time. Then yesterday’s mail brought a water bill of over $300. Yikes.

This is winter. I must have a river running somewhere. I speculated and obsessed. Patience exhausted, I called this morning. I was advised to do the following: “Make a pot of coffee. Pour one cup in the tank of each toilet. Wait twenty minutes.” If the water in the bowl is colored, I was advised, you have a leak. Then you call a plumber.

The surly clerk did not seem to care that my toilets are fifties vintage and come already colored pink and yellow. Nor did she suggest if the coffee be regular, decaf, expresso. Pete’s or Starbucks. The whole concept may turn me off coffee for life. A friend at art class today (the irony being I was in charge of making coffee) advised me she had a similar problem. She had an undiscovered outdoor leak that was only disclosed by a huge bill. When the plumber repaired it she was able to submit the plumber’s bill and get a reduction on her water bill, though it hardly made up the difference.

Now my horoscope sign is cancer, and that makes me a water baby. For years I was a Water Safety Instructor. Canoeing is one of my passions. I can manipulate class 3 rapids, but do you think I can diagnose a petulant water closet? Squirming around in toilet tanks is surely not my idea of aquatics.

My friend Dottie in Nevada informs me that in an old house even an earthquake can set a toilet to squirming. Help! I want a new house. One with a plumber living next door that will trade me toilet inspection for persimmon cookies.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Women On My Team

My dear niece Cheari and her hubby pulled away in their jazzy motor home yesterday morning after another wonderful visit in which Cheari pampered her old auntie and her husband fixed various broken appliances around Rancho Lebon. I wrote recently about Rachel Maddow and how much her contributions to information and honesty mean to me. On a more personal level, so many older living women inspire my daily routine and outlook. Another International Women’s Day passed yesterday without me saluting just a few of them who continue to help me in my life, especially since Lee died five years ago. Another day I’ll plan to salute the men! Meanwhile, here’s a tribute to a few of the women each of whom inspire me in a unique way: Andrea Charvet, once my waterfront assistant at a YWCA camp, whose friendship spans nearly fifty years and who survived an aneurism five years ago with such courage and humor and is now writing a book; Arlene Frederickson whose friendship goes back to my college days when I often visited her folks’ dairy farm, and whose whole family more or less adopted me. She lives in Bothell, Washington and is cussedly independent and funny as a crutch; Beth Bourland, my younger painting friend who recently survived lymphoma and a career change and who unfailingly encourages my artistic efforts, no matter how lame; Catherine, the daughter of my deceased best friend, Eva, who has been in my life since she was a child and who calls me every day of her work-packed life, no matter where in the world she is; Cheari Westling, my niece who cherishes and nurtures me long distance and is the emotional and genetic link to my dear departed sister; Jan Hagan, my photography/computer friend who helps me not only technically but with physical and emotional glitches in my life. I could go on and on, but I would probably jam the internet. Thank you, powerful, loving women of the world. Top to bottom: Cheari, Andrea, Beth, Arlene (and Ilsa), Catherine (and Teddy), Jan (and camera).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Republican Onions

In my watercolor class this week we have been experimenting painting fresh vegetables. First I focused on some French beets I picked up at Whole Foods. I was drawn to their soft yellow-orange color even though the root parts were fuzzy and hairy, and to the dramatic yellow-green of their stems. Besides that I know my niece, Cheari, a vegetarian, loves them and she is due to arrive Sunday for a visit. Then I moved on to painting two onions, donated by my friend Jan Matsuoka. I’ve come to the conclusion they are not just any old onions but republican onions. Why? Artistically I am drawn to them. On the surface they appear so fresh and polished and firm, but the very outside layer of skin is tissue thin. Onions are deceptive. For one thing, they resemble parts of the male anatomy, though granted this is not my area of expertise. Curiously they are one of the oldest vegetables known to man, and were cultivated by the Chinese over 5,000 years ago. They are rooted in an old old culture. What is deceptive is their colors are intense and in fact they almost glow. It takes a strong knife to cut through even the outside layer. Their heart, though, is hidden under layer upon layer of bitter tasting leaves that take forever to peel off. And to get to the heart, if indeed there is one, the explorer must shed many, many tears. Sometimes the heart is even rotten. I’ve thrown many an onion in the garbage for just that reason.

Yesterday Virginia governor and would be Republican vice president Bill McConnell signed the bill he has long proposed mandating vaginal probes for women seeking abortions. To me that means if you were raped and sought help you would first have to be raped again. Will hypocritical white men never give up control of women's reproductive rights? What does any man presume to have the power to dictate this? Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is just as bad if not worse.

A couple of years ago because of severe anemia and suspected abdominal bleeding I was directed to have a vaginal probe. Surgery was not an option because of my atrial fib. Everything turned out fine, but from one who has experienced it, it was not a lot of fun. And mine was voluntary.

I think all the males in the legislature in Virginia should be required to have an involuntary penile probe to remain in office, don’t you? Likewise the prerequisite for viagra prescriptions should be a rectal exam. Tit for tat.